Among other widespread counter intuitive goings on I see around me, the practice of people arguing over their ‘beliefs’ comes across as intriguing. I’m referring to a specific type of belief here, the kind that cannot be proven conclusively with our present levels of consciousness or knowledge. Attempting to counter one intangible philosophy with another is downright illogical.
A prime example in this regard would be the endless debate between atheists and theists both on and off the internet. Inter-religious arguments on which religion is right, terrorism in the name of religion and attempts to convert people’s religions are also a part of this charade. The beliefs in question are based only on thoughts. Evidence based on a thought exists only in the mind. He thinks it is the right way, but can he prove it? If so, how and what? Mundane and questionable examples coupled with a complete dismissal of others’ views as hogwash are what one can expect in response to such questions. People tend to forget that it’s all absurd for now and ‘think’ they have all the answers!
How can you be completely sure that your view on God is absolutely correct? Has it been unquestionably proved? If you are still absolutely sure, then I can go as far as to say that you are lying because you are claiming to be something that isn’t logically possible, which is being 100% sure. Somewhere deep inside, you are lying to yourself. If you courageously take the pain of repeatedly questioning your belief from within and be completely honest to yourself, you will come to the conclusion that you aren’t completely sure after all! How can anybody be, when nothing is known for sure? And yet, people claim to be 100% sure of their beliefs.
Fortresses built entirely in the mind turn into reality for people because they don’t want to consider the possibility of anything else being true. This may be due to their upbringing in an environment of unquestionable devotion to one philosophy or the other. Vying for acceptance is a human trait we are born with. What better way for a small child to satiate this desire by agreeing with and believing everything that he is told? A God-fearing kid is, more often than not, branded as a ‘good child’ in a theist environment. Such conditioning is what shuts off the questioning nature in children at a tender age. That faculty usually remains under developed unless it is jolted into action by something strong later on. The same truism holds good for the polar opposite, atheism as well. Such philosophies, falsified as truths are embedded into young, impressionable minds, which grow into legions of rigid and adherent adult minds that are too afraid to think beyond their wedded philosophy. My point is, if it’s all in the mind and there isn’t any real evidence either way, how can you logically take a definite stand?
For a moment, let us assume that you are right in your thinking and it is correct to have concrete beliefs purely based on thoughts. Then what gives you the authority to say that others are wrong and your way is the correct and only way? Aren’t their ‘thoughts’ then just as legitimate as yours’? What makes you argue for the veracity of your view alone? Doesn’t it amount to insulting the intelligence of a fellow human mind with no real justification?
If a person has certain beliefs, he needs to realise that others do, as well. So, either let them be, or prove yourself right beyond doubt. Endless arguments based on made up, philosophical constructs are counter-productive in my opinion as it takes us nowhere nearer to the elusive truth. One person trying to convince another about the ‘truth’ in his ‘thoughts’ is about as pointless as a discussion can get because one side never really tries to listen in, to look for sense or the lack thereof in the other side’s argument.
More often than not, it is akin to people blocking their ears and letting their mouths run. That is against the spirit of an actual ‘debate’, where it is as important to listen as is to speak. A healthy debate in the true spirit of debating, grounded entirely in logic, where people accept the vulnerability of their thoughts could help us evolve our thinking towards finding the ultimate answer. Pretending to already have all the answers and hard selling your views without listening to or thinking about what the other person has to say is neither helping you develop your mind, nor is it going to encourage your opponent to really listen to what you are saying. What is the point then?
Differences in opinion between believers and non-believers of various dreamy and imaginative philosophies have been going on for millennia and countless people have even lost their lives over such disagreements. Our society has evolved to an extent where we don’t lawfully kill people anymore over it but we still continue to argue over it when none of the sides can even remotely substantiate their arguments. We still try to make the other person ‘see’ the ‘truth’ in our views and the ‘lies’ in their own. Is this logically consistent? Is it even morally correct?
- Philosophy, Debate, and Dialog: Can Philosophy Be Debated? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- The Limitations of Thought (jacksaunsea.wordpress.com)
- Philosophy Isn’t All about Arguments (explicitblog.wordpress.com)
- The Philosophy of Absurdism (wikipedia.org)